Posts Tagged Christianity

Rohr: “Wolf in the Henhouse”

Rohr1“Unfortunately, the bottom-up, inside-out, whole-making instinct [of early Christianity] did not last. Starting in AD 313, Christianity gradually became the imperial religion of the Roman Empire. It was mostly top-down and hierarchical for the next 1700 years. As the “imperial mind” took over, religion had less to do with Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence, inclusivity, forgiveness, and simplicity, and instead became fully complicit in the world of domination, power, war, and greed itself. The wolf started living right inside the hen house, and the common pattern of low-level religion was repeated.

…I am sorry to have to share this with you, but the impact of the Church’s collusion with empire must be confessed or we will never be free from it. It also helps us understand why so many have given up on Christianity and often, unfortunately, thrown out the baby with the bathwater.”  ~Daily Meditation, 1/18/2017

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D.B. Hart: “Wisdom is the recovery of innocence at the far end of experience”

David Bentley Hart (1965-    ), is a contemporary American Eastern Othodox theologian and philosopher.

DB-Hart“I start from the conviction that many of the most important things we know are things we know before we can speak them; indeed, we know them—though with very little in the way of concepts to make them intelligible to us—even as children, and see them with the greatest immediacy when we look at them with the eyes of innocence. But, as they are hard to say, and as they are often so immediate to us that we cannot stand back from them objectively, we tend to put them out of mind as we grow older, and make ourselves oblivious to them, and try to silence the voice of knowledge that speaks within our own experiences of the world. Wisdom is the recovery of innocence at the far end of experience; it is the ability to translate some of that vision into words, however inadequate. There is a point, that is to say, where reason and revelation are one and the same.” ~ David Bentley Hart. from “The Experience of God”.

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Nikiforos Theotokis: “Faith consists of two parts”

Dover Beach

Nikiforos Theotokis

“Faith consists of two parts: theoretical and practical. Theoretical faith exists when we believe with our mind everything that our faith teaches without doing any good works. Such faith is dead, of no benefit, and incapable of saving man…Practical faith exists when we not only believe in everything our faith teaches, but also carry out and abide by all its orders and statutes.”

– Nikiforos Theotokis

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N.T. Wright: “The first expositor of Paul’s greatest letter was an ordained travelling businesswoman.”

Nicholas Thomas (“Tom”) N.T. Wright (1948 –    ), is the research professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. He was previously the Anglican Bishop of Durham, and has taught New Testament Studies at Oxford, Cambridge and McGill Universities.

 

NTWright“All Christian ministry begins with the announcement that Jesus has been raised from the dead. And Jesus entrusted that task, first of all, not to Peter, James, or John, but to Mary Magdalene. Part of the point of the new creation launched at Easter was the transformation of roles and vocations: from Jews-only to worldwide, from monoglot to multilingual (think of Pentecost), and from male-only leadership to male and female together.

Within a few decades, Paul was sending greetings to friends including an “apostle” called Junia (Romans xvi, 7). He entrusted that letter to a “deacon” called Phoebe whose work was taking her to Rome. The letter-bearer would normally be the one to read it out to the recipients and explain its contents. The first expositor of Paul’s greatest letter was an ordained travelling businesswoman.”

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Jesus’s “Ekklesia” is not man’s “Church”

Most English bible translators have interpreted the Greek word “ekklesia” as “church”, but “ekklesia” has nothing to do with the word “church”!  Every word study and reference available agree that the word “church” does not come from the original Koine Greek word “ekklesia”, but comes from a different, late Greek word, which has a totally different meaning!

Ekklesia” means an assembly of the “called out”, or “gathered apart”. In Scripture, it refers to a “convocation, assembly, or congregation”. “Ekklesia” clearly refers to people.
However, the word “church” is defined as a place (physical building and its associated infrastructure), and not as a people. That is the difference.  Now, a group of people may go to a “church” building to worship God, but the “church” building itself is not the people; the “church” building itself is not the “called out” ones. The people in the “church” may be the “called out” ones, but they are not the physical building and infrastructure itself.

The English word “church” is derived from the Greek word “kyrios”, meaning ruler or lord. Specifically, it comes into English in the context of, “kyriake oikia” “Lord’s house”, which by the 4th century was shortened to the adjective “kyriakon”, “of the Lord”, and was used to denote houses of Christian worship.  Neither “kyriake oikia” nor “kyriakon” ever appear in the Greek New Testament referring to a congregation of worshippers or as a place of worship.  This usage did not appear until about AD 300, 270 years after Jesus died on the Cross.  Regardless, this is the late Greek word that was first translated into Old English as “cirice”. It was then translated into Middle English as “chirche”, from which we get the modern English word “church”.

The Wycliffe Bible (1385), the first in vernacular English,  was a translation of the Latin Vulgate Bible and used the Middle English words “chirche”, “chirches”, and “chirchis” some 111 times in the New Testament. On the other hand, if you look at William Tyndale’s Bible (1526), which was the first English Bible translated directly from Hebrew and Greek texts, he correctly translated “ekklesia” as “congregation”.

The first recorded use of the Modern English word “church” in a Bible was in 1556 by a Presbyterian follower of John Calvin, Theodore Beza.  The following year the New Testament of the Geneva Bible (the Bible of the America’s Pilgrims) was published by Beza’s friend, William Wittingham, and he also used the word “church”.   And of course, the King James Bible of 1611 uses the term “church”. The word “ekklesia” appears 115 times in the Greek New Testament and, in most English bibles, it is always incorrectly translated as “church” with the exception of three instances (Acts 19:32,39,41) where it is properly translated as “assembly”.

By the Reformation, after 1,200 years of cathedrals, clergy, liturgy, ritual, doctrine and dogma, Jesus’s New Testament concept of “ekklesia” had become so obscured that Protestant translators considered the Greek word “ekklesia” to be synonymous with “church”!   And we mindlessly perpetuate the error today.

Church” as we know it is not found in the New Testament in either word or concept. It is an afterthought of man.

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Reclaiming our Prophetic Voice and Authority

“In the Biblical tradition, the power on the Right and the power on the Left are symbolized by the kings and the prophets, respectively.”  Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM

Fr. Rohr brings up a thought-provoking truth. The Jewish prophets were mainly engaged in acting as agents of God to communicate with his people. This communication came in the forms of prediction of future events, criticism and indictment of native and foreign domination systems, and energizing and encouraging the people to faith and hope.  The prophets didn’t just know about God, they knew God in a direct and experiential way. This gave them great authority, passion and confidence. They cared about what God cared about. In the words of theologian Marcus Borg, “the strongest passion of the God of the Bible is the transformation of the humanly-created world into a more just, compassionate, peaceful kind of world.”  The prophetic voice echoed that passion.

Because Christianity has been in league with the secular “kings” of this world (discussed yesterday in the post “Christendom: 1,700 years of sleeping with the enemy”), the institutional Christian Church silenced its prophets and lost its prophetic voice and authority early in its history.  In fact, so thorough was this purging, the ministries of Apostle and Prophet virtually disappeared from the institutional Church (cf., Eph. 4:11).  All this in the face of the advice and direction of St. Paul to the individual members of the body of Christ to “strive for the greater gifts”; specifically, “first apostles, second prophets, third teachers”, in that order (cf., 1 Cor 12:27-31).  Oh well, “Christendom” did indeed require the institutional Church to compromise some core values, didn’t it?

The point is, that when the institutional Church suppressed and abandoned its prophetic tradition, the only prophetic voice left on the field was that of secular liberals.  The obvious problem with that situation was that these secular prophetic voices often had little or no grounding or authority past the limitations of their own human intellect and passion. That can be a very dangerous thing indeed, as history has amply demonstrated.

The fall of Christendom, starting after WW I in Europe and a little later (post-WW II) in the U.S., marks the breakdown of the unholy alliance between institutional Church and State.  The Church (read: Ekklesia, Body of Christ) now has the opportunity, for the first time in 1,700 years, to reclaim its traditional Prophetic voice and authority. We have the clear advantage over secular prophets in that we know God experientially (some still do, praise God!) and thus can again speak with the authority, passion, and confidence of a loving God who calls us to restore ourselves and the world to union with him.

This is truly an exciting time for the Ekklesia, Body of Christ.  Just think, we might even grow some Apostles…

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Secular “psychology” can only help you cope: only God can deliver and cure.

The word “psychology” literally means, “study of the soul” (it is made up of two Greek words: ψυχή, psukhē, meaning “soul”; and -λογος – logos, meaning “study of”).

The fact that we are tri-partite (three-part) beings, consisting of “spirit”, “soul”, and “body” is well attested to in the New Testament (cf. 1 Thess. 5:23; Heb. 4:12) and in the writings of the early Fathers (e.g., Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, and Basil of Cesaraea).

Jesus identified many psychological issues in his teachings that we now might term “denial”, “defense mechanisms”, “projections”, and “inner healing”.  The Apostle Paul was certainly deeply involved in the transformation of the fallen human “soul” and “body” through the power and influence of the “Spirit” of God.  There are many additional New Testament examples of psychological teachings, both in the Gospels and the Epistles.

The actual term “psychology” was first used in writing during the Enlightenment of the 16th century.  The modern science of psychology is brand new, emerging in Europe in the 1870’s, with its super-hero, Sigmund Freud, starting his work in the 1890’s. I know that seems odd, given that “psychology” is such a familiar and popular part of our secular culture of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. But, as a science, it really is brand new, relatively speaking.

The problem with contemporary secular psychology is that, at most, it only deals with two parts of a human being; the body and, perhaps, parts of the soul. With few exceptions, the secular study of psychology virtually ignores the spiritual aspect of humanity. It suffers the modern bias for what can be observed and measured through the five senses, relegating all else (such as spirit), to the intellectual dumpster of superstition and/or imagination.

And that is why I maintain that modern psychology can only help you “cope” with problems, it cannot “deliver” us from them or “cure” them. Secular psychology only deals with two of the three variables of the equation; our fallen “body” and “soul”. It arrogantly ignores the most important element of our being, the “spirit”. Therein lies the healing cure for these problems; the power of the “Spirit” to transform both the soul and the body to align and conform our entire being to the perfect will of God. Only God can truly heal, cure, and deliver us from psychological afflictions.

This is not “new” news, folks.  This is ancient Christian teaching that is largely being ignored or shouted down by contemporary secular “science”.

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